As one of the oldest known breeds, the Simmental breed cattle is also one of the most widely distributed breeds of cattle in the world today.
Originally from the Simme River Valley of Bernese Oberland in the western regions of Switzerland they are one of the more versatile breeds of cattle.
In 1806 the Swiss Canton of Berne established the documented first herd-book, however historians have uncovered evidence from property records found in western Switzerland suggesting that much larger and productive breed of the white and red cattle existed at a much earlier time than documented.
The Simmental breed known for their impressive statue and dairy quality were mainly used for their rapid growth development, excellent production if milk which was also used for cheese and butter, in addition to their ability to be used as draught animals.
The Swiss Parliament in 1785 recognizing the shortage in availability of the Simmental breed cattle began limiting the volume of exports to other countries with the aim of preserving the cattle to fill their own requirements. This eventually led to the Switzerland Red and White Spotted Cattle Association founded in 1890.
The Simmental bred cattle has spread to the six continents of the globe with an estimate number of more than sixty million heads of the Simmental breeds worldwide with more constituted for than half of the cattle found in Europe.
Available records show that the breed was exported to Italy from as early as the 1400’s in addition to a number of other countries at a steady rate until the 1960’s which saw a decline in the number of exported breeds.
It was during this period the Simmental breeds were distributed throughout the Eastern regions of Europe, Russia and the Balkans and eventually teaching the plains of South Africa in 1895.
The first Simmental breed cattle to ever been exported to the Western Hemisphere was in 1897 by Guatemala, which was shortly followed by Brazil in 1918 and Argentina in 1922.
Several sources have indicated that the Simmental cattle may have been brought to the United States as early as the year 1887 in the state of Illinois.
Unconfirmed sources in addition have stated that the breed was imported in New Jersey in 1895 followed by New Mexico and New York during the four year period between the years 1916 to 1920.
It was through an advertisement found in the local Chicago newspaper known at the time as the Breeders’ Gazette that specific reference was made to the Simmental breed cattle. Early American cattle men and ranch handlers however failed to realize the importance of the breed until later in the 1960’s.
Canadian born Travers Smith in 1967 was credited in his efforts for the Simmental breed to make its first appearance in North America when he imported the famous Simmental bull known as “Parisien” from France.
In October 1968 The American Simmental Association was founded in recognition of the now popular breed which saw the Simmental breed cattle now existing in countries such as in Great Britain, Norway and Ireland as early as 1970 followed by Sweden and a host of other Northern European countries.
In 1971 the United States imported its first Simmental purebred bull which observed Australia in 1972 importing the Simmental breed cattle along with semen. In 1974 the World Simmental Federation was founded which today stands as the largest cattle foundation in the world with more than 30 active member countries. The People’s Republic of China made their first imports of the Simmental breed in 1976.
The Simmental breed cattle has been known worldwide in several countries by a variety of names such as “Fleckvieh” in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria which has also led to the World Simmental Federation also being referred to as the World Simmental Fleckvieh Federation.
Many of the other European countries have been found to refer to the breed as “Pie Rogue”, In France they are fondly called “Abondance” and in Italy “Pezzata Rossa.” The widely used Simmental name however bears reference to the breeds’ origin of the Simme Valley in Switzerland.
The Simmental cattle have been historically and even today bred for dairy and beef production in addition to their use as draught animals. Popular among ranchers and cattle men, the breed is preferred for their rapid growth and mature rate of their calves when sufficiently fed.
They have been found to provide a higher yield in milk gain than any other breed to date.
The breed has been traditionally found distinctively red in color with white spots, occasionally white and gold with specifically no standard in their notable color.
The more dominant existing shade in their coat appears as a pale yellowish gold color which extends to a dark red shade which is common among the breeds found in the United States. The white face is a genetically distinctive characteristic of the Hereford cattle which is often passed on to the crossbred calves.
The vast growth of the Simmental breeds within the United States has been at an amazing rate comparable to the events simultaneously occurring in most of the agricultural countries worldwide. Today the American Simmental Association actively recognizes a registration of over 90,000 heads of the Simmental breed cattle each year recorded in the Simmental and Simbrah herd-books and is ranked among the top three beef breed associations for annual registrations in the United States.
The World Simmental Federation actively provides its members with a worldwide list of the various breeders and associations where cattle men and prospective owners are able to contact each other to buy and sell their seed stock, and sperms for developing and maintaining their Simmental breed herds.
The American Simmental Association through its effective marketing function similarly provides its members with a detail listing of the date and times of upcoming sales where cattle men can purchase their stock for their respective herds.